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Japan Demographics: Over 10% of Population Now 80 or Above


For the first time in its history, Japan now has over one in every ten of its citizens aged 80 or older, according to national statistics. Furthermore, a record-breaking 29.1% of its total population of 125 million is aged 65 or older. Japan, grappling with one of the lowest birth rates globally, has long been confronted with the daunting task of providing for its aging populace. As per the United Nations, Japan boasts the world's most elderly population, assessed by the percentage of people aged 65 and above. Italy and Finland follow with 24.5% and 23.6% respectively, coming in second and third.

Projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research anticipate that by 2040, individuals aged 65 and above will comprise a substantial 34.8% of Japan's overall population. Remarkably, Japan also maintains one of the highest elderly employment rates among major economies, with workers aged 65 and above constituting more than 13% of the national workforce. Despite this, these efforts have done little to alleviate the mounting pressure on the country's social security expenditure. Consequently, Japan has approved a record budget for the upcoming fiscal year, largely due to escalating social security expenses.

Japan's endeavors to stimulate higher birth rates have encountered minimal success, exacerbated by the rising cost of living and a well-known culture of long working hours. The decline in birth rates is a global issue, but it's particularly acute in Japan. Last year, the nation recorded fewer than 800,000 births, marking the lowest number since record-keeping began in the 19th century. In the 1970s, that figure exceeded two million.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned in January that Japan is teetering on the edge of societal dysfunction due to its declining birth rate. Nevertheless, Japanese authorities remain cautious about embracing migrant workers as a solution to the plummeting fertility rates. Other Asian countries also grapple with similar demographic challenges. In the past year, China experienced its first population decrease since 1961, and South Korea reported the world's lowest fertility rate.